First women undergrads honored in stone

December 19, 2019

A commemorative engraved stone was recently placed at Phelps Gate honoring the first women undergraduates who arrived on Yale’s Campus in 1969.

The “Women’s Plaque” initiative was part of the 50WomenatYale150, a year-long series of lectures, exhibitions, events, and performances Women’s Plaque at Phelps Gate on Old Campus.

celebrating the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Yale College and the 150th anniversary of women students at Yale.

The idea for the stone came from the 50th anniversary committee, co-chaired by Eve Rice ’73, a current Yale trustee. Rice introduced this concept after seeing a similar stone at Jesus College, University of Oxford, England. The idea was to honor those early female pioneers with a long-lasting tribute.

Once the project began moving forward, one challenge was to find the ideal location to set it. Grey Kupiec, Manager, Planning Information Resources, worked with J.P. Fernandez, Director, Plant Operations and Planning, to seek out the best spot. They chose Phelps Gate, the ceremonial entrance to Old Campus for new students, and where graduating students pass through during Yale’s commencement ceremonies.

John Gambell, University Printer, worked with Rice on the text, design, and typesetting for the piece. Yale commissioned the John Stevens Shop from Newport, Rhode Island, to hand-cut 31 words with brass insets into the 400-pound granite stone.

From left to right: Valintine Moore, Kevin Coleman, Jamar Iovieno, Rashad Cruthird, David Cacace, and supervisor Marc Fanelli. Missing from photo is Emilio Armellino.

Extensive preliminary site-readiness took place to prepare the walkway and prevent ground buckling or frost heaving during the winter months. All the pavers surrounding the area were removed and cut to accommodate the piece. Next, a hole was dug below the 40” frost line and lined with concrete to keep the granite in place. The pavers surrounding the stone were also secured in cement.

Several Yale masons worked to prep the area, place, and secure this heavy piece. At times, there were delays, since the Phelps Gate walkway is a busy thoroughfare and Old Campus hosts many events there. “We couldn’t block off this area, so we had to work around the foot traffic. At one point, for an event, we had to fill in the hole with sand. We didn’t want anyone walking by to get hurt,” said Marc Fanelli, Supervisor, Physical Plant Structural Services. “The prep work was done over time in segments. It ended up being a big job, but it looks great!” said Marc.

We couldn’t block off this area, so had to work around the foot traffic. At one point, for an event, we had to fill in the hole with sand. We didn’t want anyone walking by to get hurt. Marc Fanelli, supervisor, Physical Plant Structural Services

The team completed all this carefully executed work throughout the late spring and early summer before the stone arrived on-site. After the piece was delivered in late summer, the carved granite was placed and unveiled during a small ceremony in early October. Anyone walking through the archway onto Old Campus can now pause to read its golden letters.

Big thanks to everyone who worked on this project.

From Physical Plant Structural Services:

  • Kevin Coleman, mason trainer
  • Emilio Armellino, mason trainer
  • Jamar Iovieno, laborer
  • David Cacace, mason trainer
  • Rashad Cruthird, mason’s apprentice
  • Valintine Moore, laborer
  • Marc Fanelli, supervisor

From Plant Operations and Planning:

  • JP Fernandez, director

From Planning:

  • Grey Kupiec, manager